Monday, November 12, 2007

Problems in the Church - A Proper Perspective

I ran across an interview from 2002 with the then Cardinal Ratzinger over at Zenit. One of the questions in the interview caught my attention, and I've included it below. This man's ability to put things into proper perspective is amazing to me.

Q: Do you think that the Church, especially in the Western world, is prepared to address de-Christianization and the great void that is left? Or is there still among the men of the Church a vision of Christianity, and not of a missionary Church?

Cardinal Ratzinger: I think that in this connection, we have much to learn. We are too concerned with ourselves, with structural questions, with celibacy, the ordination of women, pastoral councils, the rights of these councils [and] of synods ...

We always work on our internal problems and we do not realize that the world is in need of answers; it does not know how to live. The world's inability to live properly is seen in drugs, terrorism, etc. Therefore, the world is thirsty for answers -- and we remain with our problems.

I am convinced that if we go out to meet others, and we present the Gospel to them in an appropriate way, even our internal problems will be relativized and resolved. This is a fundamental point: We must make the Gospel accessible to today's secularized world.

I will be the first to admit that I can become overly focused on the "problems" that exist in the Church today. While these issues are important, it's easy to forget that they are not the most important task at hand. The most important task, the mission statement of the Church if you will, is spreading the Gospel to a world in need.

When too much attention is given to the internal issues, a sort of tunnel vision results. By focusing in on the less important, a stubborn refusal to yield can result in a nearsighted pride, all dressed up in righteous indignation. And when too little attention is given to these same issues, glimpses of relativism can be seen hidden under a false notion of charity.

Finding this balance is easier for some, and more of a challenge for others. But until we do, as the Holy Father states above, our ability as a Church to spread the Gospel will be diminished.

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